Pride of Britain 2021: Devon mother raises thousands in memory of her daughter who took her own life

  • Watch Kathy Wardle’s report

A Devon mum has been nominated for a Pride of Britain Award after devoting all her time to raise thousands in memory of her daughter who took her own life.

Karen Clare, who lives near Exeter, has raised £7,000 for mental health charities after her 27-year-old daughter Abigail died in April 2020 following a struggle with her mental health.

She said the fundraising efforts help her to deal with the tragic loss of her child as she knows the money will help others as well as keeping her daughter’s memory intact.

The Pride of Britain finalist said: "It's definitely helped me with my grief and it helps me keep Abigail's memory alive.

"She was an amazing capable young woman and I know she would be proud of the work we're doing in her name.

"She was lent to me for the shortest of time but she lived her life well and I'll never let her be forgotten."

Abigail took her own life in April 2020 at the age of 27 after struggling with her mental health

Karen’s toughest challenge included a 36-mile walk from Exeter to Plymouth via Dartmoor on the anniversary of Abigail's death.

Dave Scott, Karen's father and Abi's granddad, says he's is overwhelmed by his daughter's fundraising efforts.

He said: "To walk 35-40 miles in such a short time shows to me anyway the drive that she has developed to try and protect other little girls that may fall by the wayside because it's a bitter blow that nobody could really understand."

Karen now spends all her time fundraising for mental health charities, including founding Abigail's Army and joining forces with Falmouth-based mental health charity Sea Sanctuary.

She added: "Early intervention is really important and I think that's where Sea Sanctuary come in.

"What we're doing with Abigail's Army Daisy Fund is making the service more accessible to young people at an early stage and that's really important.

Karen founded Abigail's Army to help raise money for charities to help support mental health services. Credit: ITV West Country

"It's great being outside therapy doesn't have to be within four walls - this is the best therapy."

The charity offers mental health therapy out on the water and charity worker Claire Watt said the service gives people confidence to cope with their issues.

''We offer them the time and the support and we give them hope that they can actually develop and overcome whatever they're going through," she added.

"We give them that space to speak to people and to understand what is the root of the problem."

The team at Sea Sanctuary say Karen's Pride of Britain nomination is thoroughly deserved.

Claire said: "Oh my goodness, she is absolutely incredible, just inspirational.

Claire Watt, from the Sea Sanctuary, believes Karen's drive to raise money for charities is "inspirational" Credit: ITV West Country

"My heart just goes to her and meeting her today and her dad, I just don't know how she does it.

"She has this inner strength just to keep going and I never knew Abi but I know from the work that she is doing now I'm sure Abi would be so proud of her."

Speaking about her nomination, Karen said: "It's quite humbling because to me, I'm just a mum finding my way through grief.

"I miss my daughter every single day and to be able to do some good in her name and keep her memory alive.

"It's just what I do now but I'm very honoured and very touched that somebody would nominate me. It's such a lovely thing."